Botswana Premier League players are rubbing their hands optimistically in anticipation of a bail out from the COVID-19 relief funds. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Kago Ramokate however says Botswana Premier League (BPL) teams will have to wait for government to come up with guidelines on how they are going to be assisted to recover from the coronavirus through the COVID-19 relief fund.In an interview with Sunday Standard sport he said discussions are ongoing and they are yet to conclude on how clubs will benefit from the COVID19 relief fund. With regards to allegations that only teams that have been complying with the register of societies and paying tax through the Botswana Unified Revenue Services will be assisted, he said: “we will make pronouncement when ready.”There are allegations within football circles that those teams that did not comply with some regulatory bodies will not be assisted.
“Yes, we have had consultations with the BFA leadership whether we are in any position to help them. The decision to assist can only be made by government not just MYSC,” explained Ramokate.
BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo said the BFA has submitted cumulative wage bill of the premier league teams to the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) for their consideration.“We have used the players contracts with each team and cumulated the wage bill and submitted it to the BNSC so that they can further the requisition with the ministry of sport for the relief fund,” he said. He also said there was another suggestion that those who comply with tax can apply directly to the COVID19-19 relief fund.Mfolo is of the view that COVID-19 has affected all and there is need for all to be assisted.“We have to look at the players who are currently at home with nothing. We shouldn’t look at whether the team was complying with set regulations or not but fight to assist the players because they are the most hit. It is a natural catastrophe which should be addressed by all. We didn’t expect this. I feel players should be helped to overcome the situation,” said Mfolo.He advised that going forward teams need to take insurance policies for their players for eventualities like the COVID-19. “Had the teams insured players they could be getting money from the unemployment benefit which was able to cushion them for at least six months,” he advised.
Football commentator Molatlhegi Glazer Mangole said though premier league teams are professional teams that should be adhering to professional ethics in Botswana, they are not.“The majority, if not all of the premier league teams are not running professionally. They are going to make it difficult for authorities to help them during this pandemic because they are not complying with laws of the country, football laws let alone the club licensing,” observed Glazer. He is of the view that for the sake of fairness all the premier league teams should be classified as informal sector so that they can benefit from the COVID relief fund. “Everybody is affected by COVID-19 and if teams are to individually benefit it might be a tough call because of not adhering to some regulatory demands hence the need for them to get equal share and players also getting equal share,” opined Glazer.
He said this pandemic should be a wake-up call to all the elite teams and administrators because in future they might forfeit everything if they are not complying with the laws, and government and other organisations will not assist because they will demand certain documents to be submitted before plea to assist is fulfilled.According to the ministry of Finance and Economic Development, businesses are expected to supply payroll information to BURS, which will administer the subsidy. All claims will be subjected to audit.Mfolo advised football lovers and players to abide by the advice from the government and ministry of health officials to save the nation. He added that there is need for all football loving people to all come back from the pandemic and continue thronging the football matches for entertainment.